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By Sofia Gold

In the South-east Romania, close to the Black sea lies a cave beneath the earth that has remained completely cut off from the outside world for 5.5 million years up until Romanian sewer workers accidentally discovered this ancient place.

While Earth was evolving prodigiously with Primates descending from the trees and advancing to Homo Sapiens, the world beneath existed completely sequestered from the outer world.

The air is low in oxygen: it contains just 10% oxygen rather than the usual 20%. Without breathing apparatus, you would soon develop a headache. Visitors can only stay down for 5 or 6 hours before their kidneys pack in.

Despite the dark and the dangerous gases, Movile Cave is crawling with life.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Landmann/SPL

There are unique spiders, scorpions, woodlice and centipedes, many never before seen by humans, and all of them owe their lives to a strange floating mat of bacteria.

This floating film, which looks like wet tissue paper and can even be torn like paper, contains millions upon millions of bacteria known as “autotrophs”. So far 48 species have been identified, including 33 found nowhere else in the world.

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Photo Credit: Thierry Berrod, Mona Lisa Production/SPL

There are all sorts of scuttling and slithering things. Snails and shrimps try to avoid the spiders and water scorpions. In the air bells, leeches swim across the water and prey on earthworms.

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Photo Credit: Thierry Berrod, Mona Lisa Production/SPL

Most of the animals do not have eyes. They have long appendages like antennae to help them feel their way around. The lack of pigmentation has led to a translucent skin.

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Credit: Thierry Berrod, Mona Lisa Production/SP

Movile Cave is filled with evolutionary distinct exotic creatures (albino crabs, worms) which feed off sulfur-producing bacteria.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Landmann/SPL

There are no flies in Movile Cave, but the spiders still spin webs. Small insects called spring tails bounce into the air and get caught in the webs.

In 1996, researchers categorized the animals in the cave. They included 3 species of spider, a centipede, 4 species of isopod (the group that includes woodlice), a leech never seen anywhere else in the world, and an unusual-looking insect called a water scorpion.

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Movile Cave remains perhaps the most isolated ecosystem on the planet. It surely has many more secrets to give up. There are plenty more organisms buried in the cave’s sediments, waiting to be identified, and they could help us understand some of our deepest questions about the nature of life.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Landmann/SPL

Source: Niume

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By Sofia Gold In the South-east Romania, close to the Black sea lies a cave beneath the earth that has remained completely cut off from the outside world for 5.5 million years up until Romanian sewer workers accidentally discovered this ancient place. While Earth was evolving prodigiously with Primates descending from...